I can't feel anything.
For as long as I can remember, I've never been able to feel emotions.
I pretend to be normal when I'm around other people, but on the inside, I feel nothing.
It's not as bad as it may sound. I know that I'm broken, but I don't care. This is normal for me.
My mother was just like me when she was a child. Cold. Empty.
She told me that one day, I would meet someone special. Someone that would… complete me.
I've been waiting for that day ever since. It's the only thing I have to hope for.
It's the only thing I have to live for.
Ayano barely even registered the monster's rough voice. Why should she? Monsters had never scared her, and why would they start to now? To make her look normal? After all, she'd only pretended to be scared of them to seem normal. But there was no one else around now, so why should she bother? She was stuck in some kind of huge crater with this monster. All the other people that had been around her were knocked out.
"Hey! Girl! Are you even listening to me?"
Ayano sighed internally. She stared at the monster in front of her with mild interest. He was a few meters tall, with goopy, purple skin. Two antennae stuck out of his head, and his mouth was full of sharp teeth. His beady eyes stared her down.
"Is there something you want?" Ayano asked calmly. Part of her was silently hoping the monster would kill her. Another part was inquiring about being late to school. Not that it mattered much. School had never mattered to Ayano. She only went to keep up her 'normal' facade.
"You're a confident one, aren't you?" the monster asked.
"Are you going to kill me?" Ayano asked, tiredly. "If you are, get on with it."
The monster smirked evilly. "Well, if you insist…"
The monster reached out a large, purple hand, the size of Ayano herself. But before the hand could grab her, something moved her out of the way. Well, not something. Someone.
He was a bald, pale-skinned man wearing a yellow jumpsuit, tied up with a zipper. Rubber red gloves and boots adjourned his hands and feet. A long, flowing white cape spread out behind him.
Ayano frowned. A hero? She didn't recognise him from the Hero Association catalogue…
"You're a fast one," the monster said, staring at him. "Who are you?"
"Just a guy who's a hero for fun," the hero replied.
The monster scowled. "You're kidding. What kind of half-assed backstory is that? Mine's far superior! I was formed from the pollution man wrought upon the Earth." His teeth gleamed. "I am Vaccine Man! You filthy humans are nothing but a disease that's causing bacteria to eat at precious life forms! In order to wipe out humanity and the evil civilisation built on her surface, the Earth and her infinite wisdom has given birth, to me!"
By now, Vaccine Man had grown massively in size. Fangs protruded out of his mouth like tusks, and his eyes glowed a dangerous red. Claws extended from his hands, surrounding the hero.
"YOU SAY YOU DO THIS FOR FUN?" He demanded. "FOR FUN? HOW DARE YOU CONFRONT MOTHER EARTH'S APOSTLE FOR SUCH A PATHETIC REASON! WHAT COULD BE EXPECTED FROM A HERO LIKE-"
He was interrupted by the hero punching him in the face. With one punch, Vaccine Man was dead. A disgusting explosion covered the land in grime.
The hero glared at his steaming fist. "Not again… all it took was one punch…" He screamed, falling to the ground, head in hands. "DAMMIT!"
Ayano stared at the hero. She didn't really care about heroes in general (she only paid attention to them so she could 'gossip' about them with other students), but she could tell that there was no stronger hero than the one lying in front of her, sobbing. And that triggered something inside her. Changed something. Fixed something.
Strength. That pure, raw strength. Ayano had never seen it before. She'd never realised how beautiful it was. Ayano wanted it. No.
She needed it.
She needed to feel strength. Strength so powerful it could kill her enemies with one punch. Being in the presence of awe strength… it made her feel. She felt a fire deep inside her, a passion awaken. A burning desire. She felt complete.
Ayano felt like she was on top of the world, like she'd been reborn into a world full of colour. It was like hearing music for the first time, or tasting every flavour of food at once. Her eyes had been opened at last. This was what strength was for. She would have strength. She would be complete.
"Uh, hey," the hero was waving his hand in front of her face. "You there?"
"You!" Ayano shouted, getting into his personal space. "Who are you? Tell me your name!"
"No need to yell, lady," the hero waved his hands. "It's Saitama."
"Saitama," Ayano repeated, like it was a candy she could savour. She turned to Saitama with bright eyes, eyes she'd never had before. "Tell me… Saitama. How did you get so strong?"
Saitama turned to her with a serious expression. "100 pushups. 100 sit-ups. 100 kilometre run. Every day, non-stop."
Ayano's eyes widened further, and she took down notes using her Saikou-brand phone. "Incredible…"
"Uh, yeah," Saitama said, scratching his head. "Shouldn't you be going to school or something?"
"There must be more to it," Ayano said, ignoring him. She grabbed his cape. "Teach me your ways, Saitama. Teach me how to be strong."
"Dude, I already told you," Saitama replied.
Ayano shook her head. "There's more to it. I can tell. Only learning under you will I understand this great power. Take me as your disciple! I want to learn from you."
"Whoa whoa whoa," Saitama held up his hands. "I'm not looking for a disciple, and definitely not a highschool girl, either."
Ayano frowned, balling up her school skirt in a fist. "I can become strong, Saitama. I'll show you that it's worth making me your disciple."
Saitama shook his head. "I admire your ambition, kid, but I'm really not interested. Go out there and become strong by yourself."
Ayano narrowed her eyes. "You'll accept me soon enough." You won't have a choice, she added mentally.
Before Saitama could say anything else, Ayano ran off, her school bag almost flying off her shoulders.
By some kind of miracle, Ayano made it to school in time. However, she was completely out of breath. She almost collapsed onto the school gates.
She didn't pay much attention in class. All she could think about was getting stronger. Yes, when lunchtime came around, she'd use the time to get stronger.
And that's exactly what she did during lunchtime. She spent the entire thing running around, doing push-ups and sit-ups until she thought her arms were going to melt. She tried to fit in some weight-lifting too, but ran out of time. Safe to say, it was hard to stay focused during class. Physically, her body was drained, but emotionally, she was still pumped up. Her own body was fighting itself.
Cleaning time came at last, at the end of the day. Ayano, tired, went to get a bucket full of water, when a voice she did not want to hear approached her.
"Yan-chan!" the voice yelled. "Yan-chan!"
Ayano paused. Her 'friend' Midori Gurin was standing there, holding a mop. The green-haired girl had a huge grin on her face.
"Yes?" Ayano asked, politely.
"Let's go clean on the rooftop!" Midori exclaimed.
"Okay," Ayano agreed. Why not? She had nothing better to do. She followed Midori up the stairs, approaching the school rooftop. It was a pleasant afternoon… mostly.
"Ugh!" a girl's voice shrieked. "You big dummy! You're holding it backwards!"
"Oh, right," a male's voice replied. The owner of it scratched his head, holding up a broom. "I always forget."
The girl rolled her eyes, snatching the broom from him. "Baka! Here, let me do it."
Ayano watched the two for a bit. The girl's name was… Osana, she believed. And the boy. Wasn't his name Taro? He was an upperclassman, right?
Taro noticed Ayano and Midori and smiled. "Hi, Midori-chan, Yan-chan!"
"Hiiii!" Midori waved.
"Good afternoon," Ayano replied, nodding at him.
"Cleaning's tough, huh?" Taro asked.
"No, you're just a dummy!" Osana scolded him, playfully. The two continued their bantering. Ayano watched them thoughtfully.
"Whoa, Yan-chan, look!" Midori grabbed her attention. "A giant man!"
Ayano, at first, thought Midori was being her dumb self again, but then she looked over the horizon. Ayano, indeed, saw a giant man in the distance. He was towering over the city, crushing buildings in an instant.
"Whoa," Taro gasped, staring at the giant's silhouette. "That's horrifying!"
Osana was trembling and hiding behind him.
"You okay?" Taro asked her.
Osana glowered. "O-of course! I'm not scared, you… you idiot!"
Ayano kept staring at the giant man. She wondered if that was what it was like to be strong. To have the whole world at her feet…
Yes, that's what she must have. Strength.
"Hey, Yan-chan!" Midori waved her hand in front of Ayano's face. "After we're done, you wanna go play some Miyuki at my place? I'll invite Kuu over as well!"
"Sorry, not today," Ayano replied. "I have work to do at home."
She wasn't exactly lying. Strength training counted as work, did it not?
"Aww," Midori frowned. "I'll save some green cookies for you!"
Ayano gazed at the giant man again, while Midori went on her phone to pester Kuu Dere about meeting up. Ayano wasn't as 'close' to Kuu as Midori, but she knew Kuu would keep Midori occupied. Ayano thought about that hero, Saitama. Her fists clenched. She'd become his disciple, whether he liked it or not.
And then she'd become even stronger than him.
It wasn't very often that Saitama came across a person that made him think.
That strange high-school girl… she almost reminded him of himself. Before he'd defeated that monster, she'd had an emotionless look in her eyes. She almost looked more like a doll than a human.
Then he'd saved her life, and everything changed. She suddenly looked alive. She had a fighting spirit, a burning passion inside her. Just like he had, three years ago, when he'd saved that kid. How did she change so quickly? Saitama wasn't sure he understood it. That girl… she was so young, so gullible.
Then again, what did he know about a random high school girl?
Weirdly enough, she wanted to be his disciple. Right off the bat. Of course he'd said no, how was he supposed to be a teacher? But she'd been determined. She'd promised to get stronger. Saitama had to admit, he was intrigued. He hadn't been this interested in another person in a long time. He genuinely wanted to see if she would stick to her word.
The hero walked into the supermarket. It was bargain day, lucky him. As he glanced over a packet of crabmeat, he realised he'd never gotten the girl's name. Judging by her uniform, she attended that Akademi High School. Supposedly, Akademi High was this big fancy prestigious school full of rich kids. It was considered to be one of the best high schools on the entire planet. Safe to say, it was probably far better than the high school Saitama attended.
Saitama picked up the packet of crabmeat. It reminded him once again of that time three years ago when he'd saved that kid, and his life had changed forever. Back then, he actually got a kick out of fighting. Now he was starting to feel his emotions slipping away.
Saitama went up to pay for the meat.
"That'll be 785 yen please," the worker at the register said.
"Sure," the hero replied. He dug through his purse, and pulled out an 800 yen coin. He frowned. "Hang on. Let me get the change."
As he fiddled around in his purse, looking for change, people began screaming and running around. The ground was shaking. The entire front of the store was wiped off, a giant foot passing it.
"Here's the extra yen," Saitama said, looking up. But the cashier was gone. So was everyone else. Saitama frowned at the broken front of the store. He poked his head outside, and saw a giant towering above the city.
"Welp," he said. "That sucks."
A little while later, the giant man had been defeated. It wasn't that hard. Saitama had to admit, he felt for the big guy. He'd wanted overwhelming strength, got it, then felt completely empty because of it. As the hero walked home, his thoughts returned to the bizarre highschool girl again.
Something told him he wouldn't be seeing the last of her. Not for a long mile.
Finally, cleaning time ended. Ayano headed home, which only took a short walk. Sometimes it took longer if she decided to visit the main city, for whatever reason. Usually it was to go grocery shopping, or ride around on her bicycle. That was what normal people did, after all.
She lived in what was possibly the nicest part of City Z: City Z Suburbia. Unlike most of City Z, it wasn't high-rise, instead appearing to be more like a friendly neighbourhood. It had normal-sized homes, townhouses, large houses, and the Saikou Corp headquarters in the very centre. The majority of Akademi High students lived in City Z Suburbia. At the edge of the suburbia was a train station that took passengers to the main city, as well as any other city.
Ayano didn't consider herself to be the richest person alive, but her family was well-off enough to live there. Her house was better off than some crappy apartment, after all. Not that money had ever mattered to her. It was only another thing she'd pretended to care about. Going to the mall with 'friends' was exactly the same. Everything was.
Ayano unlocked the door to her house and let herself in. Her parents were on a business trip, so it was just her. Ayano went upstairs to her room. She changed into some action wear and put her school stuff away. She'd do her homework in the evening. Not that homework mattered to her. She only did it because she had to.
She'd read some manga too. Cherry Touch, it was called. She didn't enjoy reading manga or watching anime. She only did it to be normal.
Perhaps she'd enjoy it, one day.
She went into her bedroom, stretching her arms. It was time to get serious. She felt an energy build inside her. This was it. This was what it meant to feel.
She would become the strongest, no matter what.
One day, everything changed.
I witnessed the strongest person I'd ever seen kill a monster with one punch. After seeing that, I began to feel for the first time.
I felt alive. I felt… complete. Strength brought meaning to my life. And now I know what I want.
No. What I need.
I need to become strong.
But not just strong. I need to become the strongest.
I can't stand the thought of someone being stronger than me. Especially that man, Saitama. That thought… it makes me feel another new emotion:
All over the news, I see heroes and monsters that are stronger than me. Even in my own school, there are people who are stronger than me. And Saitama is above them all.
I want to stop them. I want to hurt them.
I want to kill them.
I don't care what I have to do. I don't care who I have to hurt.
I don't care whose blood I have to spill.
I won't let anyone overtake me.
I will become the strongest.
… even if it means I have to kill every single hero that association has to offer.